With the amount of data being sent through computer displays, would it ever be feasible to move away from rectangular pixels on screens?



Wondering because I was watching a youtube video and noticed that at a low resolution, you just can’t display an equilateral triangle nicely

In: Technology

Pixels (usually) aren’t singular rectangles, as much as they are 3 lines side by side which in aggregate forms a singular rectangle. Each line is a color of red, green, or blue. Unless we start having a triangular screen, it’d be hard to tile those triangles in a way that is perfectly regular with each pixel. (Triangles tile the plane, but not if every triangle is in the same orientation, like rectangles or squares do)

Some screens use a different 5 color grid of nonlines, but overall, they still form a single rectangle, so it is about the same.

You *could*, in fact it already has been done. The iPhone X’s display isn’t made up of square pixels but is rather an array of oval green dots and rounded diamond red and blue dots. At the end of the day though, whatever arrangement you choose wouldn’t be perfect for display any arbitrary shape at low resolutions.

Instead the solution to this challenge is to just make higher resolution displays such that the shape of the pixels aren’t a visible limitation on the shapes which can be smoothly displayed. Apple’s “Retina” displays are aimed at a pixel density such that in normal use the individual pixels are just too small to be visible at all.

So nobody is likely to be trying to construct a display specifically to show equilateral triangles really well and now be incapable of good squares. It is just too niche a goal.

it’s possible to have a vector-based display, but good luck getting the entire world to change all the code of every computer, web page and browser to support it.

It sounds like what you’re talking about is aliasing. It’s basically what happens when you don’t have a high enough resolution to properly display an edge, and so you can see noticeably jagged steps instead of a clean line.

The thing is, changing the shape of the pixel wouldn’t fix that. It might change which edges have problems, but it’s not a substitute for having more pixels.

Square pixels have problems with lines at 45°. Rotate the pixels 45° and they’ll make smoother 45° lines, but then horizontal and vertical lines will look bad. Use hexagons and you won’t have any straight lines. Use circles and you’ve got the same problem, but worse since circled don’t fill in space perfectly. It’s not an issue of squares vs other shapes. You’ll have have some problem with any shape you choose.

There are techniques to blend pixels specifically to address this, they’re called anti-aliasing, but they’re not perfect either and usually have their own drawbacks. The only realistic solution is just to increase the pixel density until your eye isn’t able to distinguish individual ones anymore.